The tragic genius from Oak Cliff who put Texas on the literary map

What do Janis Joplin, Larry McMurtry, Ken Kesey and LBJ have in common?

This week it’s their appearance in a new biography about Billy Lee Brammer, the Sunset High School graduate who put Texas on the literary map.

Brammer was a journalist who served as a press secretary for U.S. Sen. Lyndon Baines Johnson in the 1950s. In 1959, he published “The Gay Place,” a novel based on the real-life shenanigans of Texas politicians, including Johnson.

“The Gay Place” was a sensation in the realms of politics and literature, but it was a one-hit wonder. Brammer continued his journalism career and became “a fixture, and eventual glass-eyed patron saint, of Austin’s counterculture,” writes the Texas Observer.

For his part, Brammer is also a mirror for the nation, a personification that is as central to telling his story as it is to ‘the Brammer Myth’: the whispers that Brammer and friends helped nurture the San Francisco hippie scene, that Brammer shared a mistress with JFK, that he introduced Austin to LSD and that he saw the Kennedy assassination up close (all, in [author Tracy] Daugherty’s estimation, possibly true).

Brammer died of a drug overdose in 1978, but “The Gay Place” lives on. I can’t wait to get my hands on this biography, which comes out Oct. 17.

By |2018-09-17T16:02:02-05:00September 17th, 2018|News|Comments Off on The tragic genius from Oak Cliff who put Texas on the literary map

About the Author:

Rachel Stone is the Oak Cliff editor. Email or follow